- The capital of the West Flanders province of Belgium, with a population of 120,000.
- This medieval city boasts UNESCO World Heritage Site architecture.
- The port of Bruges is one of the most modern ports in the country and an important port in Europe. The same port made Bruges world’s chief commercial city in the middle ages.
- The city is renowned for its beer and chocolate, which both get their own keepsake festival: February through March for Bier Festival and November for Choco-Late.
- Nickname: Venice of the North
- Currency: Euro (EUR).
- Spoken languages: Flemish and Dutch.
- Best time to visit: April to September for pleasant climate perfect for strolling along the cobblestone streets. Be prepared for occasional rainfall.
- Arriving via airport: Brussels Airport (BRU) operates a rail service through Brussels Zuid/Midi Station. Taxis charge €150-160.
WHERE TO STAY
The historic centre presents the beloved medieval heart of Bruges with all its highlights and must-see attractions. The charming streets are lined with quaint boutiques, stellar restaurants, pubs and the widest selection of accommodation available in the city.
- Walking and cycling are the preferred way to explore the compact city. Maps are available at the tourist information centres.
- De Lijn operates the bus service through the city. Fares are based on travel between zones, with standard tickets priced at €1.30 if purchased in advance or €2 if purchased on-board. A day pass allows unlimited travel for €5; the 3-day pass for €10, the 5-day pass for €15 and the weekly pass for €20 or €30 if sharing between two persons.
- Taxis are a superfluous luxury best left for travel to the outer suburbs or to Zeebrugge, the port area. Call 50 35 57 57 or 50-33 38 81 to book.
- Drinking age is 18, and last call is 5 AM.
- Eiermarkt is popular for its rows of bars and restaurants that provide a casual, relaxed atmosphere that centres on excellent beer and banter.
- ‘T Zand is a large square known for its vibrant pubs and music gigs.
UNIQUE LANDMARKS TO VISIT
- Belfry of Bruges is the symbol of the city, a medieval bell tower located in the historical centre that was once used as a treasury and observation post for spotting fires and other dangers.
- Church of Our Lady is the tallest structure in the city and the second tallest brickwork in the world dating back to the 13th century. It is also the resting place of Michaelangelo’s masterwork “Madonna with child”, the only sculpture to leave Italy in his lifetime.
- Groeninge Museum focuses on the artworks by painters known to have lived and worked in the city from the 14th to the 20th century.
- Heilige Bloed Basiliek is a Roman Catholic minor basilica originally built as the chapel for the Count of Flanders. It is the location of a relic of Holy Blood collected by Joseph of Arimathea.
- Grote Markt has been in use since 958 and is ringed by historical attractions such as the Belfry as well as numerous tea parlours, specialty shops and boutiques. A weekly market is held every Wednesday and offers handmade products as well as local produce.
- Kathelijnestraat is home to a selection of chocolate shops specialising in the art of confectionery.
- Béguinage refers to the enclosed communities planned and used by the beguines, places of utter quiet and peace a short walk, horse carriage or boat ride away from the city centre.
- Bruges is the homeland of the famous lace, which is still worked on by hand.
- Beer is taken very seriously in the city and the best place to soak in the subculture is to visit “De Halve Maan”, the only family brewery that is still active in the historical centre.
- Where to find good cheap eats: Genthof and Jeruzalemstraat offer a variety of cheap and cheerful fixed menus with good portions.
- Dangerous areas: Bruges is a very safe city. In any case, exercise caution at night.
RECOMMENDED BRUGES GUIDE BOOKS
Recommended trip duration: 2-3 days